“I think I’m goin’ back to the things I learned so well in my youth,
I think I’m returnin’ to the days when I was young enough to know the truth…” – Carole King
I first heard this song, “Goin’ Back, written by Carole King and performed by the great Nils Lofgren (and others including Bruce Springsteen back in the day), early one Sunday morning on the radio station WBCN. I had recently finished at Syracuse University and I was interning at my favorite rock radio station for a Sunday showcase program called “The Boston Sunday Review”.
I remember that I was driving in my car on my way to ‘BCN (I had to get their by 4:30 a.m.to assume my duties in the news room) and a DJ named Tracy Roach (who also co-hosted the BSR) played the song. It was a magical moment when it almost seems like a disc jockey is communicating directly with you by playing a particular song, moments that rarely if ever happen anymore with radio. But there was something very nostalgic about the words and there was something about strength that I supposed I needed to hear.
“A little bit of courage is all we ever lacked,
So catch me if you can cause I’m goin’ back.”
That was the line that stuck with me and it was as true then as it is now. Oh man, what we could have accomplished with just a little bit more courage. If I ever have the chance to deliver a message to people both young it would be this: Have faith in yourself and the courage to dare. Because we have everything inside us we need for life to be, as the song says “a magic carpet ride.” We just need a little bit of courage.
I thought of this song last week after reconnecting with a couple of old pals, Eric and Mike, on Facebook and Linked In. (Thanks to my old friend Sue for the tip.) These two guys were about the greatest friends a person could ever have and I met them during my Freshman year of college. We all lived on the same floor of Flint Hall on a hill called Mount Olympus. I think it was the highest point on an already high hill atop which Syracuse University sat. We used to say “the snow always falls first on Mount Olympus” and it was probably true. I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with Eric and Mike and a few others like Ellen and Sue and Laura from those “salad days” when I was green with youth. There was a bond that existed; a friendship, a love, something that I can’t describe but can only feel. Amazing, isn’t it. More than 30 years later I can still feel it. If you had friends like this when you were between 18 and 21, I’ll bet you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I guess its no great mystery why we wax nostalgic for the days of our youth. We were young and full of energy. We had few responsibilities, obligations and expectations other than to do our best. Every day was a new adventure and anything was possible. But even more importantly, I think we do this because this was the time in our lives when we were most full of joy and hope. The world had not begun to beat us down. We thought we could be heroes. We thought we were indestructible.
A little bit of courage was all we lacked…
Oh, the memories seem to sweet. I remember drinking way to much and not studying nearly enough. I remember the energy that seemed to reverberate all around me. I remember how exciting it was to be in a dorm with so many beautiful women so nearby. I remember nights out on Marshall Street (the big commercial street on campus) and bars like Sutter’s Mill, Hungry Charlies, The Orange which later became Bugsie’s and Faegan’s, where I would later work as a DJ. I remember playing beer pong and other drinking games and then staggering back to our rooms. I remember study hall, where we did actually learn a thing or two. I remember a tunnel that connected Flint Hall to Day Hall on Mt. Olympus (with that much snow you sometimes needed a tunnel). Down in that tunnel we congregated at the bookstore, a little fast food joint where you could get a burger and fries late at night. That’s also where we did our laundry. I remember a little club called the “Mount Inn,” (yeah, it was a corny name) where during my second year I worked pouring beer and booking bands. I remember scurrying down the long, seemingly never ending steps to get to the main campus for class and then slowly trudging back up. I remember those rare days in Fall and Spring; warm days when it felt like heaven on earth. We didn’t get many days like this, so we made sure to take full advantage; congregating outside and shedding some of our layers of clothes, playing ‘bee (Frisbee) till it was too dark to see the plastic disc anymore. And just talking. Talking about nothing and everything. Talking about our pasts and what we hoped for in the future. But most of all I remember laughing so hard that it hurt sometimes and it makes me want to cry right now as I type these words and remember how happy I was.
Syracuse changed my life in so many positive ways and helped me believe in myself and I thank my friends, especially my best friend Kevin, for always being there when I needed him and helping me to find the courage I lacked. It was a long time ago, and so many things have happened since. I’ve lost my father and my sister, Elizabeth, to deaths far too early in their lives. I’ve had one career in radio, another in sales and another still to come. I’ve became much more cynical. And I definitely don’t laugh nearly as much.
But when I get down and blue it’s easy to reach into the past and think of the friends I had then and still have now and slowly the blues slip away. As the song says it was “long ago and far away,” but it often also feels like yesterday.
A little bit of courage was all we lacked, so catch me if you can ’cause I’m goin’ back.